Happy Tuesday. loves!
Are you ready for the story of how we came to be in our first house on Cambridge Lane?! Brace yourself for a novel of a post from current days and going back about 3 years! Also get ready for lots of practical (to us) advice/tips on buying a home so take it as you will! 🙂
We started our day yesterday with some exciting news! Two offers on our condo!!! Woohoo! It’s only been on the market for a little over 3 weeks but we were hoping to sell it asap. We priced it really reasonably but with the holidays it didn’t get a ton of attention, maybe 5 or 6 showings so the wait was on. What a blessing to be able to get to choose the best offer and not have to go too far into 2016 with a double mortgage! 🙂 So since it looks like the countdown is on to close this chapter in our lives I thought it would be a good time to share our journey to buying our first home!
So we got engaged in November of 2012 and knew that we for sure wanted to buy something right away because financially it made the most sense to not waste money on rent when we had car payments and lots of student loans to pay off. We started house hunting and planning a wedding right away and let me tell you I don’t recommend trying to buy your first house and plan a wedding in a span of 6 months. OMG can you say stressful? I pretty much hated every house we looked at (everything in our price range was hideous) and didn’t have the creative energy to see past what the houses were to what they could be while also working and wedding planning. It was just too much. Buttt we ended up finding a house that fit our budget and size and taste and put in an offer in March and our wedding was in May 2013. Gah. Tick tock tick tock.
Post inspection though there were things wrong that were too expensive to fix which often happens in a flipped house situation (make sure you get an quality inspector he saved our butts) so we backed out and kept hunting. At this point it was down to the wire and we felt the pressure to find something and I didn’t want to settle due to the timeline. So the hubs came across a condo that was newly foreclosed in a good area that needed some work but would be a great investment. At this point I didn’t even care as long as we had somewhere to live we could figure out the rest later. So we put an offer in and got the condo BUT because it was bank owned it wouldn’t be ours until after the wedding so we had to sublease from someone for 4 months. Say hello to the first place we lived in after we got married. Ours was the bottom floor on the left. One bedroom, one bathroom, a tiny gally kitchen and almost no furniture for 4 months. Oh and we moved in the day after we got home from our honeymoon, ha. Talk about a whirlwind. We flew in and slept at a hotel and then went back to our parents houses to pack the rest of our stuff up and move in. Longest. day. ever (we didn’t want to live together until we were married). But we made it work and now we can look back and laugh (kinda) at our first months of married life sleeping on an air mattress in our first apartment with no furniture and long commutes and not a lot of money. But we saved what we could and we survived while we worked on getting our condo ready. We closed on it in July and our sublease was up in September so that gave us a month to paint and rip out the carpet and buy furniture and move again. Here are some before pictures I took when we finally got the keys. Funny enough when we re-painted the bedroom it was almost the same color it was when we bought it but it needed a fresh coat for sure. We wanted to put as little money as possible into this condo so we could really save for our future house. We ripped out the carpet and the hubs put in new bamboo flooring which I loved and we painted every single room and all the trim and the doors. I took the doors off the hall closet and the bathroom closet to open up the little space that we had, as well as took down the wall mirror in the bathroom and then we bought furniture and some decor but nothing crazy. We spent under 5k from start to finish on our condo over the course of 2 years and because of the smart investment we made we will be making significantly more back to put into our house on top of all the money we saved owning our condo and not renting something our first 2 years of marriage. Back back story: We waited a few years out of college until we were in a good place financially before we even got engaged because we (mostly the hubs) wanted to start our life together in the best standings we could. I was ready to get married in college but looking back am SO thankful for a husband that is realistic and a smart financial planner and even though it was hard used his head and waited for the best time for us to get married. 🙂 #worththewait Look at that hard working guy putting in flooring for the first time ever! It is amazing what you are capable of doing when you want to save money let me tell you! Don’t underestimate yourself! Besides electrical work we did everything at the condo ourselves with a little painting help from family because it takes foreverrrrrr. Here are the after photos we used to list our condo and you can (hopefully) really see the transformation of the space! Flooring and paint make a HUGE difference in your living space, remember that. (Do you recognize the living room furniture? It was all cherry wood when we bought it and now it’s white for the new house!) It wasn’t always easy living in 700sqft but we knew it was the smartest decision for us so we made it work. It also gave us time to figure out what we really needed in a house and be better buyers the next time around. Because our offer was accepted in the first two weeks that the condo was on the market we had to live in it for at least two years. So as soon as July rolled around this year we were on the hunt for our new house! Things that were on my non – negotiable list:
- 4 bedrooms
- good school district
- fenced in yard for Roo
- big(ger) kitchen
- space to entertain
- 2 stories
- closet space
The hubs non-negotiable
- in our price range
- fenced in yard
As you can see I care far more about the details that he does, ha. Lucky for me he just wants me to be happy so as long as I loved it and it was in our price range it was a go! 🙂 We looked and looked and looked for a couple months and I just couldn’t find “the one.” I know it was driving the hubs crazy but I wanted to make sure it felt right and gave me that “this is it” feeling. I think we probably walked through 25 houses the last couple years and it was starting to feel hopeless. I remember one Monday afternoon in September texting my mother-in-law who is our realtor and saying that I wanted to take a couple months off and wait to see what else came on the market and save a little more money and see if that makes a difference in what we could buy. On Tuesday a house in Wheaton came down 20k and was in our price range. When it came through the first time I remember looking through the pictures and thinking it looked so nice but it was too expensive. So when it came down in price I was like ok lets go see it after work today if we can get in! Too many times I didn’t act fast and get into a house and it would have a pending offer like that! It was crazy around here this Fall! Cathi just happened to be out of town, go figure (back story every time we’ve put an offer in on a place/signed a contract either the hubs or his mom were out of town and we had to do stuff over the phone and e-mail) and so she had one of her best friends and fellow realtors walk us through the house. We really liked it and went home and talked it over and decided to sleep on it because me being a perfectionist wasn’t obsessed with the floor plan and the master closet was too small, ha. I don’t know about you but it’s really hard to get a read on houses with other people’s stuff in it, at least for me, because I can’t always see the potential and I get distracted by what’s already there. Also I’m an over thinker sooo house hunting was rough for me, ok! 😉 Also I have ADD, for reals. Where was I?
After sleeping on it I knew that that the house had a lot of the things we were looking for and wanted to walk through it again. At this point we found out that there was a pending offer on the house so if we wanted it, we had to act fast. I walked through it again by myself and called the hubs and said I wanted to make an offer as long as we could turn one of the smaller bedrooms into a walk in closet for me. You can’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it ladies! Just saying. 😉 The hubs agreed so it was time to come up with an offer and make sure it was a good one so they didn’t turn us down. In case you’re lost on the timeline, I had given up on house hunting on Monday and now it was Wednesday and we were putting in an offer on a house, hahaha! Life is crazy sometimes and even when you’ve given up, God never does! Pretty great, huh? Ok, back to the story. So we put in an offer and they counter higher and then we counter again and then we decided to meet in the middle of their original ask and our original offer and the house was ours. WHAT!? Can you believe it?! In a span of 3 days we walked through a house and made an offer and it was accepted! Crazy. Town! After all these years of waiting the right house was basically ours in a matter of days! Well really years but you know what I mean!
So now comes the logistics, signing contracts and waiting for them to get a lawyer. Then we got the house inspected and tested for Radon (still don’t understand what this is) and the plumbing looked at and then sent them a list of things to fix and decided on a closing date which they changed twice. And then finally getting the keys to our first house on November 5th! From putting in our offer in September to moving in the day before Thanksgiving was the quickest 2 months ever! If you’ve see the home updates the last 6 weeks you know we’ve done lots of painting projects, some furniture shopping, unpacking and hanging things up and trying not to spend too much money until we sell our condo. We signed an offer for the condo last night (eek) and Cathi is out of town ha, told you and we hope to close on January 21st so we can refinance and lower our mortgage, put more money into furnishing/updating the house and pay down some of what we owe on the house too. What a whirlwind. It’s been the fastest and slowest almost 3 years journey to our first home on Cambridge Lane and I am SO happy that we took our time and made the choices that we did! We passed on taking trips that our friends went on/vacationing, buying things we didn’t need, ate in and really tried to live under our means; from consistently paying down extra on our student loans until we paid them off (7 years early) to paying off my car to never having a balance on our credit cards going into a new month we had our sites set on our first home and thanks to thoughtful planning on the hubs part we made our dreams a reality!! Dreams on a budget! We bought well under our approval so we didn’t over extend ourselves each month and could actually do some work around here and furnish the house affordably before we have kiddos!
Something good to keep in mind, don’t over extend yourself in the house buying process, just because you’re approved for a certain amount, doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for your financially. Better to under commit and have money left over then put everything you’ve got into the house and have nothing left for a rainy day; like an unexpected need for a new dishwasher ::cough cough:: glad we were able to replace ours but if we hadn’t planned ahead I would be washing dishes everyday for who knows how long. Gah. #notworthit So all in all, here we are 3 years later sitting in our first home, counting our blessings and I so look forward to all the memories we are going to make here and am so thankful for God’s hand in orchestrating the timing of everything from the condo to the sublet to the house! We are SO blessed and can’t wait to bless others through being homeowners ourselves.
If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading this longggg ramble! 🙂 I tried to keep it short but there were so many details to share! I don’t even know if it makes sense have the time but after reading it like 20 times for better or for worse this is the abridged story. Our story. I hope you stick around as we make this house a home and thanks for all who have supported us so far!
“Any home can be a castle when the king and queen are in love.”